In the early years of the 3rd Reich, the German Branch of the Red Cross, was the main social welfare organisation in times of hardship.
In December 1939, Hitler conferred a new legal status on the Red Cross by recognising it as a national organisation with some independence from Geneva. With this new status, the German Red Cross expanded in size and remit within Germany. It expanded its organisation into two distinct branches:
1) Active in medicine, nursing and first aid. (Red Cross)
2) Charitable and social works caring for children, the old and the homeless. (Social Welfare)
During WW2, the Red Cross became involved in both the home front and the International scene, tracing and monitoring prisoners of war.
Although the members, both male and female, were on a non-salaried basis, a full-time cadre of uniformed salaried leaders supervised them. The DRK incorporated the omnipresent eagle and swastika with the International Red Cross symbol in the design of their own distinctive insignia.
The DRK Prasident was Dr Ernst Robert Grawitz who also held office in the SS as Obergruppenfuhrer. His duties also involved acting as Chief Police and SS medical officer.
Dagger Information Red Cross Leader Dagger
The DRK leaders dagger was introduced in February 1938 for dress wear by officers of the rank of Wachtfuhrer and above.
The dagger was 37 cm long and featured a plain pointed blade that conformed to the Geneva Convention because it was not worn in the field.
The grip was plastic and coloured pale yellow to an orange colour with 10 horizontal simulated wire cords running around the grip.
The pommel and cross guard is similar in style to the Hewer and both were nickel-plated. The cross guard had the same DRK insignia at its centre. The base was a bit better quality metal. The nickel plating is about 3-4 microns.
The scabbard had a pebbledash finish with two square or circular suspension rings. The base metal is sheet metal with 3-4 microns of nickel plating.
The hangers came in two double strap varieties.
Hanger 1) Staff involved in medical and first aid duties had tan brown velvet faced straps with red bordered aluminium stripes and finished with plain oval buckles and slides and clip.
Hanger 2) Social welfare officers wore grey velvet straps with blue bordered aluminium facings. The hanger straps had pebbled rectangular buckles, clips and slides.
Although the dagger ceased production in 1940 it was worn by officers until the end of the war. It should be noted that the portepee is very rare to find for this example dagger.
Edited by Bruce Petrin